Army Corps reconsidering permit for $9.4B plastics complex

FILE - In this March 11, 2020, file photo, Myrtle Felton, from left, Sharon Lavigne, Gail LeBoeuf and Rita Cooper, members of RISE St. James, conduct a live stream video on property owned by Formosa in St. James Parish, La. The Army Corps of Engineers is considering whether potential environmental impacts require it to change, suspend or revoke the permit for a $9.4 billion plastics complex planned in Louisiana by a Taiwan company, U.S. Department of Justice lawyers said Wednesday, Nov. 4. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
FILE - In this March 11, 2020, file photo, Myrtle Felton, from left, Sharon Lavigne, Gail LeBoeuf and Rita Cooper, members of RISE St. James, conduct a live stream video on property owned by Formosa in St. James Parish, La. The Army Corps of Engineers is considering whether potential environmental impacts require it to change, suspend or revoke the permit for a $9.4 billion plastics complex planned in Louisiana by a Taiwan company, U.S. Department of Justice lawyers said Wednesday, Nov. 4. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

NEW ORLEANS – The Army Corps of Engineers is considering whether potential environmental impacts require it to change, suspend or revoke the permit for a $9.4 billion plastics complex planned in Louisiana by a Taiwan company, U.S. Department of Justice lawyers said Wednesday.

The Corps plans to explain by Tuesday why “the intended construction activities authorized under the permit ... may not proceed,” said a motion filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

“I’m overjoyed by this news. This hopefully marks the beginning of our victory over Formosa Plastics,” Sharon Lavigne, who formed Rise St. James to fight the company's plans, said in a news release with others who sued to stop the project.

Formosa Plastics Group’s Louisiana member, FG LA LLC, plans 10 chemical plants and four other major facilities on 2,500 acres (1,000 hectares) on the Mississippi River in St. James Parish, between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

“FG has worked cooperatively with the Corps throughout the permit process, and will continue to cooperate with them to provide any additional information they may need from FG,” spokeswoman Janile Parks said in a statement. “The company has been very diligent to make sure it has done everything required to ensure proper issuance of, and compliance with, it’s permits and will continue to do so.”

Environmental and community groups sued to overturn the permit, saying the Corps took only a cursory look at probable environmental effects of the complex called The Sunshine Project after the nearby Sunshine Bridge.

Thursday was the deadline for the government's reply to a request for Judge Randolph Moss to decide the case against the Corps without a full trial.

The Justice Department instead asked him to hold off on further proceedings while the Corps reevaluates parts of the environmental review under the Clean Water Act.